Planning what will happen with your personal property upon death is not a pleasant situation. However, it is crucial to design a strategy to pass your assets to its designated beneficiaries with minimal friction involved in the process.
In this article, you will discover how different forms of title ownership may impact the probate process in Florida.
How to Hold Title in Florida for Probate – The Basics
When an individual dies owning property solely in his or her name, the property may go through probate.
If the decedent died with a will, the document’s provisions must govern how the property will pass to his or her heirs. If there is no will, Florida intestacy laws will define the property’s inheritance process.
Tenancy in Common
Unless expressly provided in the property’s deed, tenants in common own an equal interest in the property. The ownership may vary according to the provisions in the document.
When one of the tenants dies, the decedent’s percentage of ownership transfers to his or her heirs as provided by the last will. If the ownership percentage is not titled to a trust, it may go through probate.
Under joint tenancy, the co-owners of property have equal ownership portions. If one of the joint tenants dies, his or her heirs will inherit that specific ownership share of the property. If a property held under joint tenancy has no rights of survivorship, this form of ownership will not avoid probate.
Forms of Title Ownership to Avoid Probate – An Overview
Joint Tenants With Right of Survivorship
Under joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, the deceased tenant’s portion of the property transfers to surviving joint tenants without probate.
If only one individual remains as the titleholder, this form of ownership immediately transforms into “tenancy in common.” Once the last remaining owner dies, his or her will must go through probate to determine who will inherit the property (unless there are legal tools in place to avoid it).
Tenancy by the Entirety
This form of ownership is available only for married couples in Florida. Listed in the property’s deed as “husband and wife,” each spouse equally owns the property with rights of survivorship.
If one of the spouses dies, the surviving spouse immediately becomes the owner of the entire property. This form of ownership is a valuable tool to avoid probate.
A trust is a legal arrangement in which you (referred to as “trustor” or “settlor”) transfer the ownership of a property to a trustee (fiduciary) for the benefit of one or multiple designated beneficiaries.
Once you transfer the title of a property to the trustee, the asset is no longer a part of your estate. If someone dies owning property held in a trust, the trustee will transfer the assets directly to the beneficiaries as provided in the trust instrument.
This way, it is possible to avoid probate while ensuring your wishes will be carried out upon death.
Work with an Expert Estate Planning Attorney to Build a Solid Estate Plan in Florida
Attorney Romy B. Jurado is an estate planning expert willing to help you protect your legacy and loved ones upon death. Immediately contact us by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing Romy@juradolawfirm.com to schedule a consultation.